Monitoring shows birds flying farther and faster than previously throught

Share
A researcher in Manitoba, Canada holds a Canada Warbler that has been fitted with a geolocator and leg bands. (Kevin Fraser/Courtesy Boreal Songbird Initiative)
A researcher in Manitoba, Canada holds a Canada Warbler that has been fitted with a geolocator and leg bands. (Kevin Fraser/Courtesy Boreal Songbird Initiative)
Birds are migrating further and faster than previously thought, something that will require a rethink when it comes to habitat conservation, says a report released this month.

The report, titled Charting a Healthy Future for North America’s Birds,  was released by the Boreal Songbird Initiative, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ducks Unlimited, and Environment for the Americas. Using technology, researchers tracked birds as they migrated south from Canada’s boreal forest.

“Birds go farther and faster and have broader migratory routes than we thought,” said Jeff Wells of the Boreal Songbird Initiative in a news release.

“This new evidence shifts our understanding of what migratory birds need. They need landscapes to remain wild on a much larger scale. That opportunity still exists in North America’s boreal forest—the nesting ground for billions of migratory birds.”

Need to protect the boreal forest
An illustration of wintering areas that were found to match corresponding breeding regions further north. (Boreal Songbird Initiative)
An illustration of wintering areas that were found to match corresponding breeding regions further north. (Boreal Songbird Initiative)

Both climate change and increased economic activity is threatening bird habitat, says the report, which calls for protection of at least half of North America’s boreal forest, a place where billions of birds start their migration.

“It’s been a hundred years since we signed the pioneering Migratory Bird Convention,” said Les Bogdan of Ducks Unlimited Canada in a news release this month.

“It’s time for another breakthrough. Setting bolder targets for land protection—like protecting at least 50 percent of the boreal forest and applying world-leading standards to any development in remaining areas—is our century’s great conservation idea.”

Working with northern indigenous groups and respecting their traditional lands is also key to conservation, the report says.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Flame retardants found in Arctic gulls, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Wind farm aims to limit harm to birds, Yle News

Sweden: Swedish Coast Guard seeks answers on injured birds, Radio Sweden

United States: Starving seabirds grounded in Southcentral Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

Share
Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is a journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project.

Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the violent death of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on violence and trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

Twitter: @Arctic_EQ

Email: eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *